|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Rajinder calls for Open trials
September 29, 2003 21:26 IST
Attributing India's success in the Asia Cup to team work, chief coach Rajinder Singh said the team can win an Olympic gold only if the "weak links are eradicated".
Addressing a press conference in Chennai on Monday, Rajinder said, "We struck two birds with one stone -- won the Asia Cup and thereby qualified for the World Cup 2006 in Germany. But there are weak links in the back, middle and forward line. We require to improve upon so many areas. Most important is missing field goals."
He said there has been improvement in these areas but it is not enough to win at the Olympics.
"We have won the Asia Cup. We have to work harder for the Olympic qualifier and the Athens Games. We have weakness in so many areas. Re-tackling of the forwards, development of half-backs, and lack of proper foot work by full backs are the areas that need immediate improvement," he said.
The chief coach added, "I am happy that within about one year I have brought about improvements in many areas, like goalkeeping, short corner conversions, even goal-scoring abilities and re-tackling, but still lot of improvements are needed to win an Olympic gold medal.
"They have improved in the frontline but still we have to improve more. Major part now-a-days is drag flicks for penalty-corners. We are missing Jugraj Singh but we have to see who is coming in his place for the future. We have to find from the juniors who are available."
The coach advocated the need for 'Open trials' to pick Indian teams.
"We have to call Open trials, if possible, for full-backs and players for various other positions. We can invite drag flickers for camps. It is an open invitation to all players in India and the good players could fit into the national team," he said.
He ruled out any change in the composition of the Indian team for the inaugural Afro-Asian Games, to be held in Hyderabad from October 24 to November 1.
"We cannot have new players for the Afro-Asian Games since time is short. Maybe, for longer camps we can have Open trials. My request to the IHF is to call all players for Open trials," he said.
Talking about the committment of the players, he said, "In the Champions Trophy, I am sorry to say that there were disturbances by the media. The players were also running after the media. In fact, some were writing articles in newspapers.
"At no time they were committed and for all 24 hours they were busy with the media. In future, we will provide two or three times in a week for the media to interview players, but the training schedules should not be disturbed. All these factors were not witnessed during the Asia Cup and the players rightly delivered the goods."
As for the triumph in the Asia Cup, the coach said, "The fact that two of our players -- Sandeep Michael and Ignace Tirkey -- were adjudged most promising player and man of the final respectively against Pakistan goes to prove that we have improved a lot.
"In our pool match against Pakistan, the only thing that was missing was goals. The players played a wonderful game that day also. We won against Korea and Pakistan to win the Cup and it proved that the commitment is there."
Rajinder admitted that the team felt the absence of penalty-corner specialist Jugraj Singh.
"We were worried by the absence of Jugraj Singh, but still I am happy that Dilip Tirkey has taken short corner conversions seriously and also scored few goals. Now my appeal to the players is that we have to maintain this, play well in the Afro Asian Games and Olympic qualifier."
Captain Dhanraj Pillay gave accolades to Rajinder Singh, Baldev Singh, A B Subbiah and the trainer besides thanking them for "weaving this wonderful victory".
"We are getting lot of mileage from the media for the last two months. Indian hockey has really come up. Under the coaching of Rajinder and Baldev Singh we will prepare well for the future tournaments. I am sure under the coaching of Rajinder we will qualify for the Athens Games," he said.
On the Asia Cup win, Pillay, who has appeared in 400 international matches, said: "I am very happy to win the Asia Cup for my country. It is creditable as we finally won the event, started 21 years ago. All credit goes to my coaches and players."